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#522059 - 03/02/17 06:47 AM Today's Belize News: March 2, 2017  
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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5, LOVETV, PGTV, West Vision (Cayo) and CTV 3. Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and other specials


The San Pedro Sun

Los Barbies are the top Comparsas of this year’s San Pedro Carnaval
El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro has ended, but not before delighting thousands of islanders and visitors with a grand island-style ‘fiesta’. The festivities were full of painting, parties and comparsas presentations. This year, three comparsas groups (San Pedro AIDS Commision, Flora Ancona , and Los Barbies) took to the streets of downtown San Pedro to not just add fun to the celebration, but also to try impress the judges for the coveted title of best comparsas. After three days of non-stop dancing, from Sunday February 26th through Tuesday, February 28th, Los Barbies were declared the winners of this year’s Carnaval. In second place was the San Pedro AIDS Commission Comparsas Group, and in third place Flora Ancona Comparsas Group.

San Pedro Red Cross collects 14 pints of blood
The Belize Red Cross, San Pedro Branch (BRCSPB) held their first blood drive of the New Year on Saturday, February 25th at the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II. From 9AM to 3PM, a total of 14 people donated the much-needed blood. Among some of the donors were San Pedro Town Councilor Hector Alamilla, and several team members of the San Pedro Pirates Football Club. The Club stated that as part of its community service, the team is willing to assist in positive ways. Red Cross member Phillip Ramsey, explained the lower turnout. “The Red Cross had to schedule the drive one week earlier, because of Carnaval. It wouldn’t be feasible, especially if a donor consumed alcoholic beverages. However, because the drive was a week early, our frequent donors couldn’t donate, because it has not been 90 exact days since their last donation,” The group still considers the blood drive successful, and the technicians were able to collect 14 pints of blood, enough to save 42 lives. Ramsey also invited members of the San Pedro Red Cross Youth Group, consisting of 19 San Pedro High School students to do community service. The youth group held a dollar drive, and were able to raise $1,414.43 to further the works of the Red Cross. In addition, Crazy Canucks also donated $216 as part of their Trivia nights.

Female American National reported missing at sea in North Ambergris Caye
San Pedro Police and the Belize Coast Guard are searching for a female tourist who was reported missing at sea in Northern Ambergris Caye since Tuesday, February 28th. American National 29-year-old Rickilee Michelle Mercer, from Texas, USA, has still not been located. As the search continues today Wednesday, March 1st, police have released an official statement. On Tuesday, 28th February, 2017 39-year-old Marvin Hazim Yono, American National of Bloomfield Michigan reported that he and another friend were at an area located west of Ambergris Caye, which is known as “Secret Beach,” on separate jet skis. Around 2:30 p.m. he invited 29-year-old Rickilee Michelle Mercer, American accountant of Texas, USA for a ride. Yono reported that they left on the Jet Ski heading west from “Secret Beach” when they both fell off. He then swam to shore and the last sighting of Mercer was when she was swimming towards the Jet Ski. They then conducted a search party but could not locate her. Police then visited the area along with members of the Belize Coast Guard and began to search for her.

Ambergris Today


The San Pedro AIDS Commission dedicated their entire performances to the late Felix Ayuso who was recognized by the San Pedro Town Council and San Pedro House of Culture as ‘El Rey de Carnaval’ (King of Carnaval) for his tremendous efforts in keeping the culture of the celebrations alive on the island. The Commission put on spectacular dance routines with elaborate costumes and even sent out the message of ‘No Offshore Oil Drilling’ for Belize during Day 2 of Carnaval. The group was awarded second place, Third place was given to Doña Flora’s Comparsa who were more traditional in their costumes and style of dancing. They stuck to the roots of Carnaval and had superb costumes and a very energetic group of dancers. A fourth comparsa ‘Jaguar’s Girls’ only managed to perform on Day 1 of Carnaval but were just as entertaining for those who came out to watch them dance. FUN! There was a lot less painting taking place this year, except for the last day when it seems like the entire island comes out to paint each other. Deejay music and Foam Parties kept the young at heart entertained at Central Park where most of the painting was centered.

Woman Reported Missing After a Day of Jet Skiing, Suspected Drowning
The San Pedro Police and community this morning are in search of a missing woman who is lost at sea on the leeward side of Ambergris Caye after an afternoon that was suppose to be a pleasurable one. According to Police Reports, on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 39-year-old Marvin Hazim Yono, American National of Bloomfield Michigan reported that he and another friend were at an area located west of Ambergris Caye which is known as “Secret Beach” on separate jet skis . Around 2:30 p.m. he invited a 29-year-old Rickilee Michelle Mercer, American accountant of Texas, USA for a ride. Mr. Yono reported that they left on the jet ski heading west from “Secret Beach” when they both fell off the jet ski. He then swam to shore and the last sighting of Mercer was when she was swimming towards the jet ski. The crowd that was enjoying an afternoon at Secret Beach became a search party as the daylight started to fade. Some islanders reported seeing a woman on a jet ski drifting towards Cayo Espanto, a few miles so of Secret Beach, but as of this morning the search party deployed last night was not able to locate the woman.

Misc Belizean Sources

mzz

Belize's Wonder Women! Derricia Castillo-Salazar
March is Women's History Month, and we are proud to announce that Derricia Castillo-Salazar is our Belize Wonder Woman! In fact, Derricia is the Embassy's nominee for the prestigious International Women of Courage award, presented annually by the United States Department of State to women around the world who have shown leadership, courage, resourcefulness, and willingness to sacrifice for others, especially in promoting women's rights. Derricia is one of the highest-ranking women in the Belize Defense Force (BDF) and is an exceptional advocate for women and human rights. She assisted in creating and implementing a BDF HIV Response, spoke at the 38th Meeting of UNAIDS in Geneva, worked as a Conflict Mediator, and is a member of the Caribbean Women's Alliance for Diversity and Equality. Derrica is the Aircraft Maintenance Officer at the BDF and a founding member of the military’s HIV committee, which conducts behavior change campaigns for members of the BDF and the Belize Coast Guard.

"Positive Play, Positive Minds, Brighter Tomorrow!"
This morning preschoolers from Belmopan and surrounding communities gathered at the steps of the National Assembly to kick off festivities for Child Stimulation Month. The month-long celebration opened with a brief ceremony followed by a parade. Share a photo of how the month was opened in your community! Happy Child Stimulation Month to All Our Preschoolers!

Caye Caulker Blood Drive
OK guys, just putting this out there. San Pedro averages 20 pints of blood at their Red Cross Blood Drives. That's 20 people donating. I feel like Caye Caulker can *easily* beat that! They have the high population but we have the community spirit! Come on guys, let's try to beat SP on this one! Let's go for at least 25. Be one of the 25!!

Mission Cry’s director reports on Belize trip
Sometimes, the best way to find out what someone needs is simply to ask. Jason Woolford of Mission Cry, formerly Christian Resources International, did just that on his recent trip to Belize. “They’re not asking for food or clothes, but they’re saying, ‘Listen, we need discipleship, we need Bibles, we need Christian books,’” he said. That’s where Mission Cry comes in. According to Woolford, their goal “is to reach the entire country of Belize with the Bible or a Christian book in every home in this country.” John Foy, an on-the-ground partner in Belize, said the answers Woolford got are spot on. Most local believers “don’t really need any more evangelism. What they really need is more discipleship. They need Bibles so they can read it, eat it, and grow.” Foy first encountered Woolford’s mission when his team started a village outreach in Belize. They quickly ran out of Bibles, and a friend suggested he contact Woolford’s organization.

Cayo Air Show 2017
It's been a few years since the last Cayo Air Show. This year's show will be on Sunday, March 12th, at the Spanish Lookout airstrip. They'll have helicopter rides and skydiving open to the public. They'll also have live aerial acrobatics. Pictures from the last airshow. "Guys and gals, get ready for another exciting day at the biennial Fly In at the Spanish Lookout airstrip. Pilots, aircraft owners, and flight enthusiasts you are ALL welcome. RIDES! Astrum Helicopters will be offering rides for sale on location, so and your sweetheart can go for a flight over the country side. More coming later. SKYDIVING! We will have a professional skydiving team performing for everyone to enjoy. And for U$199 you too can strap in and jump out of a plane! AEROBATICS! For the first time ever we have officially been authorized to have live aerobatic performances. RC AIRCRAFT! We are inviting all RC pilots and owners to bring out their RC planes drones and helicopters to join in the fun."

Rota Copa Football Marathon
The Rotaract Club of Benque has teamed up with the DYS to bring the 2017 Rota-Copa to Benque. The all day football tournament will be on Saturday, March 18th, at the Amin Hegar Filed in Benque. "World Rotaract Week will be celebrated from March 13th to 19th, 2017, and the Rotaract Club of Benque Viejo in partnership with the Department of Youth Services will host a one day football marathon on March 18th, 2017. Through this medium we take the opportunity to invite you and your team to join the ROTA-COPA 2017 football marathon to be hosted at the Amin Hegar Football field in Benque Viejo Town, starting at 8 a.m. until. Your team may be a co-ed (both males and females)."

2017 Taste of the Americas in Miami
Showcasing the staple and cultural foods of Belize!

Pendant found at Nim Li Punit
A large T-shaped pendant was found in an intact collapsed tomb at the Maya frontier site of Nim Li Punit in southern Belize.

BELIZE'S SANDRA COYE: WE LOVE & APPRECIATE YOU!
Sandra Coye's reflection upon me since her attending my Islamic wedding in 1986 in Los Angeles, California, has been something that is very difficult to erase from my memory since her physical disappearance from Belize's social life. She has stood out all the time for me as a Belizean woman of considerable brilliance and tenacity rarely seen in any woman of African heritage across these post-colonial slave societies in the Americas and across the African diaspora. During my producing of Raymond Gongora's documentary feature on what we here at Belizean Legends called, "The Belizean Artistic Renaissance", Coye's work came alive again in her dynamic poem called,"Genesis of Destruction", that was used in a award winning monologue at the 1976 Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA). It is a classic Belizean protest poem that was highly praised across the English speaking Caribbean since the awesome Belizean artist, the late Beverly Smith-Lopez, brought it in monologue to Carifesta.

First 2017 Successful San Pedro Blood Drive
On Saturday, Nov. 25th, the Belize Red Cross, San Pedro Branch (BRCSPB), held their first blood drive for 2017 at the Dr.Otto Rodriguez Poly Clinic. The team worked hard and successfully collected a total of 14 pints of blood and raised $1414.43 at their dollar drive. The next blood drive will be held at the Clinic on Caye Caulker on Saturday, March 4th to kick off the BRCSPB country wide Blood Drive training initiative, which will be open to all districts. The San Pedro Branch will train participating branches in facilitating bi annually or quarterly blood drives and creating shareable rare blood type data bases across the country. This will help build the capacity of all districts in helping assist those who need blood in their area.

Countrywide Blood Drive Training
The Belize Red Cross San Pedro Branch will commence facilitation of Countrywide Blood Drive Training in Caye Caulker on March 4th. The 2 part program open to all active Belize Red Cross Branches. San Pedro Branch will train all participating districts in facilitating bi annually or quarterly blood drives and creating shareable rare blood type data bases across the country. This will help build the capacity of all branches in helping assist those who need blood in their area.

Immigration hearings in Belize will not change enforcement of our laws
By Wellington C. Ramos Years ago when I was a police officer in my country of Belize, up until my departure to the United States in 1978, we were responsible for the enforcement of our immigration laws including the issuing of passports. Now, the Immigration Department is run by civilian civil servants. For many years the chief immigration officer for Belize was Mr William Tennyson, a man of integrity who I knew personally. I must point out that Belize was still a British colony and we were considered British subjects up until we attained our independence from Great Britain on September 21, 1981. Our local politicians had to be careful as to how they interfered with the police officers' enforcement of the laws at that time. I know for a fact that they still found a way to meddle in the affairs of the police and immigration officers, while they were enforcing our immigration laws. At that time, the People’s United Party was in power.

Mad City Money Financial Literacy Game
In addition to shopping and balancing a chequebook, students also identified needs vs. wants and the percentage of their budget they were willing to spend on internet, food, phone, bills, savings etc.

LOST & FOUND
Today on my walk on the north road in front of village market an iPhone 6 flew off a golf cart and I want to try and find the owner. It is black with a black case. I think it's a tourists phone because it doesn't have phone service. It is locked and needs fingerprint to unlock. If they can unlock it it's theirs. Contact Carmen at Coco Locos or PM Us to get in contact with Jaimie. #share to help us find the owner! We called the phone and her outgoing voicemail said her name is Susan Turling. Wasn't best reception but that's what it sounds like.

Children Celebrating the Opening of Child Stimulation Month!
In San Pedro

Immigration Department to issue temporary passports
Please be informed that the Passport Office is presently experiencing technical difficulties with the passport printing process. The Immigration Department will be providing temporary passports, in emergency cases, to persons whose passports are exhausted, lost (6 weeks waiting period apply), damaged or mutilated, and who demonstrate a need for urgent travel. Temporary passports will be processed within one (1) week, with validity for one (1) year at the normal fee of $30.00. Starting 7th March 2017, machine readable passports (MRP) that have expired, but have blank pages, will be extended for 1 year. Extensions will be processed in one week free of cost, on completion of the attached form which is available at the district offices, overseas and on the Immigration & Nationality Service (INS) website at www.ins.gov.bz. Persons residing overseas should contact the nearest Belize Embassy or Consulate to access this extension process.

CEO Caucus Cancer Awareness Ride 2017: “We’re with You”
The second annual CEO Caucus Cancer Ride is slated for Saturday, April 8, 2017, under the theme “We’re with You”. The route is same as last year, starting at 6:30 a.m. at mile 25 George Price Highway to the National Agriculture and Trade Show Grounds in Belmopan. The fundraising target is $50,000 and the proceeds will go exclusively to the Belize Cancer Treatment Center in Dangriga Town, in an effort to augment the capabilities of their increasingly accessed services. The CEO Caucus launched its Cancer Awareness Initiative on May 7, 2016 with a fundraising target of $50,000. In its inaugural year, the Caucus raised over $80,000 and the ride garnered the support of more than 200 participants, which included numerous partners and volunteers, local and internal donors and supporters, public officers, and friends. The initiative was arguably the largest social ride noted by the cycling community. The beneficiaries in 2016 included the Belize Cancer Society, the Belmopan Cancer Society, and the Belize Cancer Treatment Center in Dangriga.

New businesses are popping up all over in San Pedro. Mmmmm...croissants? Merci!
Zut alors! San Pedro is getting seriously fancy and buttery and really really tasty. At the opening of Delices de France - I tried a croissant and something brown and carmelized on the outside and soft and spongy and vanilla on the inside. Mangnifiques! Now we wait for the coffee shop next door :)

Power interruption 8:00am to 9:30am, Saturday, March 4: entire San Pedro Town & Bomba Village
BEL to remove Osprey nests from transmission structures that supply power to San Pedro & Bomba. BEL has installed platforms for the nests away from the power system to prevent outages caused by Osprey nests.

Channel 7

Immigration Officer Tench Spills the Beans On Chang/Tillett
For the past 3 weeks, we've told you about how the Senate has been attempting to get former Deputy Mayor Eric Chang and former City Council Employee Patrick Tillett to come before them and testify. They want both men to answer to allegations from the Auditor General and senior Immigration Officers, who say that, in late 2012, they bought 8 stolen visas to try to get Asian persons to travel to Belize. This is one of the key incidents in the Auditor General's Report, which reeks of corruption within the Department. That embarrassment is compounded by the fact that very little was done to take disciplinary action against the persons implicated in an internal investigation, and the Department heads did not call in the police to properly investigate the theft and illegal sale of Government property. We've told you how both Eric Chang and Patrick Tillett are refusing to show up to the hearings, and the Senate now has to compel them to show up. Chang will have quite a lot to answer to because the Auditor General's Report also says that he took a fraudulent Belizean passport to Won Hong Kim while he was in a Taiwanese jail.

No One Called the Cops?
So, as you saw, Mark Tench said that he and the other investigators did all they could to find out which immigration officer stole those visas from the Belize Western Border Station. He said that after their operation, word got out that the Immigration higher-ups know that it had happened. Tench said that he and the senior officers from the Western Border believe that there were other officers who participated or were complicit in the theft. But, because the officers realized that they were under suspicion, everyone prepared themselves to stand up to any kind of questioning. Tench told the Senate today that this should have been the time when his superiors got the police involved to activate a criminal investigation. The problem, according to Tench, is that they never did. Here's how he explained his frustration at their fumbling: Mark Tench - Former Supervisor, BWBS: "One thing I want to say is that upon returning from that trip that night, when we came from Corozal with information that we had I told Mr. Cano to call the police because I told him-"

Tench: From Whistleblower to Scapegoat
So, there was no police investigation on the case, and there was no further follow up for this serious breach of public trust. And according to Immigration Officer Mark Tench, the Ministry of Immigration then turned around and tried to scapegoat him for the embarrassment. The problem is that he discovered that the visas were missing, so those higher than him reasoned that he was the one who was negligent on the job. Here's how he explained to the Senate that he was forced to defend and exonerate himself in a Public Service Commission Hearing on the matter: Mark Tench - Former Supervisor, BWBS: "I am the only person who has done any investigation into this matter and nobody has been blamed except for me and Mr. Leslie." Hon. Aldo Salazar - Chairman, Senate Select Committee: "Was it that you were blamed for taking the visas? It said you Mark Tench stole the visas or was it that you were brought before the commission because you the officer who - you were the supervisor at the time when it went missing and that perhaps there was a complaint about the way in which the visas were handed over to you?" Mark Tench: "They said that I did a wrong handing over."

Questioning Calndelaria
And that's why Mark Tench has a bone to pick with former Immigration CEO Candelaria Saldivar-Morter. You'll remember that when she went to testify in front of the Senate, she told them that he had been sanctioned for the 8 stolen visas with a surcharge. Well, today, Tench told the Senate that she has it all wrong, and he wants the record set straight. Here's what she said on February 8, and followed by his response from today: Mark Tench - Former Supervisor, BWBS: "It's so unfair and then on another matter to have Ms. Saldivar come here and slander my name publicly that's so-" Hon. Aldo Salazar - Chairman, Senate Select Committee: "What are you referring to?" Mark Tench: "When she came and she said she took me in front of the commission and I paid money, none of that is the truth and I thought that maybe the committee had done their research concerning what was the result of that previously hearing that we had at the public service commission. We had a hearing there, they even have recordings of those hearing if you want to listen to them but nobody knew, nobody could have stopped her from scandalling my name."

Chang and Tillett Will Be Required To Appear
So, will Eric Chang and Patrick Tillett show up? That's what the Senate is attempting to force them to do. In fact, they are being summoned to present themselves at next Week Wednesday's hearing. This evening, the Senate Select Committee Chairman, Aldo Salazar, gave us an update on the actions that they have taken to make sure this happens: Hon. Aldo Salazar - Chairman, Senate Select Committee: "You would recall I said on the last occasion that we had invited them based on the actual convention for the senate inquiry was an invitation that was sent out. So we had invited them with anticipation they would attend at a prior date but when they declined our invitation then we actually took the decision to issue a summons. So when the summons was issued it was not with the intention they appear today but next week." Daniel Ortiz: "Sir so is there any indication that this summons will be successful and these persons will present themselves given as to how the hearings have played out and what the audit? Report says they are major players according to the audit reports and according to the persons who have come to testify." Hon. Aldo Salazar: "I have no indication as to whether they would show up or not. If there's a refusal to show up then the committee will have to take a decision as to what to do next but I don't have any indication at this point whether they would show up or not next week."

Cops Mum On High Powered Rifle/Ammo In OW
Police have not released details of a sizable weapons and ammunition bust made on Monday in Orange Walk. So far, through our own sources, we have learnt that a high powered assault rifle and over 100 rounds of ammunition were found in an operation. There was an AR-15 rifle with a scope, along with 76 rounds of .223 ammunition and 50 rounds of of 7.62 ammunition - which are types used in assault rifles. Two persons have been arrested and charged, while charges are pending for another. 59 year old Jorge Leiva, of Unity Steet in Orange Walk Town, and 24 year old Larissa Zetina, have been charged with Kept Ammunition without a License. We are told that one of the male suspects was caught fleeing the house with a bag full of illicit items.

Two Perish In Burnt Vehicle
There was a terrible accident on the Placencia Road this morning - and it has left two persons, not four dead. Initial reports said it was four persons, but an on site post mortem has confirmed that there are only two sets of skeletal remains. It happened very early this morning about three to four miles away from the junction with the Southern Highway not far from Belize Aquaculture Limited. A vehicle appears to have run into a lamp post and burst into flames. The persons inside were burnt so badly that they could not be identified. NOW WE SAY “APPEARS,” BECAUSE THERE ARE SOME SUSPICIOUS ELEMENTS TO THE CASE INCLUDING THE FACT THAT THE VEHICLE DID NOT HAVE ANY LICENSE PLATES. Police are interviewing one person who may be the owner of the vehicle but they re waiting for proof.

Jury Says He Killed Lerisha
Just last night, we told you about the man charged and remanded for knocking down 6 year old Ashanti Pollard. Well, back in 2010, Lyle Harris, knocked down and killed four year old Elisha Gilharry. Today, a jury of 6 women and 3 men found him guilty of causing death by careless conduct. The jury deliberated for 90 minutes before it arrived at its verdict in Justice Adolph Lucas's courtroom. Justice Lucas has deferred sentencing until March 10th. Harris had also been charged with manslaughter by negligence but that charge was withdrawn by Justice Lucas because there wasn't enough evidence to support it. On September third, 2010, Harris was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser when he knocked down Elisha. Her father Joseph Gilharry testified that the driver apparently did not know that he had knocked down his daughter and he was dragging her along the road. Gilharry said he had to run down the driver to stop him.

Cops Will Go To Trial
3 San Pedro cops accused of killing an island Bartender back in March 2016 will stand trial for manslaughter and not murder. Constables, 20 year old Reydel Teck, along with 20 year old Jahsimir Cob and 22 year old Romelio Logan allegedly beat Edwin Ixtapac - who was found injured near the sea wall the next day, and was then taken to prison. Ixpatac's injuries were not treated until a day later, when he was found unconscious in his prison cell. He was taken to the polyclinic and later transported to the KHMH where he succumbed to his injuries.

Faber Accepts Court Decision On Makeup Days
As we reported last week, the BNTU's court case against the Ministry of Education has ended. The teachers will get their full pay and in return, they will have to make up six school days lost in the 11 day strike. Teachers and students are expected to report for classes for 3 more days before going on the Easter Break, and 3 more before going on the summer break. When we spoke to Minister of Education Patrick Faber today, he told us what he thinks about the outcome. Faber says this wasn't the initial proposal but it's the decision they all will have to work with now. Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education: "We had as you know proposed to include the 6 additional days, 3 at the start of the new calendar year in January and then again 3 days - sorry I think it was 4 in January and 2 in the Easter break. That would have allowed for the students who are taking PSE and also those are the CSEC level to get that additional instructional time. However you know the events played out and in fact it did not pan out in that manner and the only other option would have been for us to agree to tag on half hour on everyday which really and truly in our opinion does not make sense. I believe that we might be able to really do some saving of instruction time in the Easter break but you're right we don't have many much hope that at the end of the school year June or July or whenever it is that much will be accomplished in those time, we are only hoping that the teachers and the BNTU will encourage the teachers especially to make good productive use of it."

Faber Accepts That Things Have To Change At Immigration
Faber also weighed in on the ongoing senate inquiry into Immigration irregularities. As you saw in our first segment, the senate probe continues to be very revealing – each session unearthing layers upon layers of irregularities and shady dealings by public officers and UDP operators. It's a major black eye for the UDP and Faber admits there is a serious systemic problem: Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education: "I think what is clear is that there is a lot that has gone wrong in the immigration department as is the case in other areas of the government that are notorious for corruption. I think what is clear is that while everybody seems to want to place blame on the politicians that in fact there is much more going wrong and what is really needed rather than the pointing of fingers is for us to revamp the system and get a kind of system going that is transparent and that is open where these kind of abuses won't take place."

Finding A Potato Solution
Last week we told you about the 2.5 million pounds of Belizean potatoes that were in danger of going to waste, because they were unable to compete with the larger, cheaper, Mexican potatoes that are currently on the market. Normally, by the time the Belizean red potatoes are ready to enter the market, the Ministry of Agriculture cuts back on the importation of the competition. And according to Minister Godwin Hulse, that's exactly what happened, but the problem is that the Mexican potatoes in the country now are contraband. So now, the potato farmers have been forced to reduce their prices to about 75 cents, which they think is unfair. We spoke to the CEO of the Ministry of Agriculture, Jose Alpuche about the situation, and he told us that even at the lowered cost, the farmers should still be able to turn a profit... Jose Alpuche - CEO, Ministry of Agriculture: "I expected this question but quite frankly look I'll be very honest from the very beginning we had stated that the ministry was attempting to have facilitation to facilitate an agreement between the producers and the marketers. Despite what you hear the Ministry of Agriculture agreed to issuance of permit, the last permit on the 18th of January. We don't issue the permit; we are consulted as it related to whether or not there are domestic supplies."

Creek Ready For The Ruta
Carnival revellers say they are ready for the road, while Ruta Maya Paddlers say they are ready for the river. And tonight we can report, that the river - or at least the Haulover Creek is ready for them. Today 7News went along with the Forestry Department and the City Council for a final run through after a team of 12 men and two divers worked for 12 days on clearing the creek. It was a tall and tough task, but they're finally finished and just in time for Ruta Maya. We found out more:… Phillip Willoughby - City Councillor: "I honestly thought the magnitude of the scope of works that we would have to contend with was way beyond our capacity, way beyond our capabilities." Jules Vasquez: "You thought it was impossible in the period of time?" Phillip Willoughby: "Yes sir, being fair yes, impossible with uncertainty of getting the work done."

Gold Panning In Chiquibul Still A Problem
Today the Friends for Conservation and Development - which co-manages the Chiquibul issued its most recent situation report on gold panning in the Chiquibul. The news is that despite serious deployments of manpower, resources and conservation posts, the Guatemalan gold panners continue to push into Belize. But, because of the presence of Belziean law enforcement, they have changed their tactics. The FCD notes that since the post was installed in 2012, the gold panners have dispersed, but they haven't gone away. Instead, they have learned how to elude the patrols. In the first year, things seemed to be going well, the BDF soldiers, police, and FCD rangers detained many gold panners. But, the panners started studying the patrols' movements and timing and they dispersed to other areas of the Ceibo creeks - those are, the Ceibo Chico, Ceibo Grande and Mal Pago. And the result of that is that the FCD report, quote, "Today the impacts in plain view is much bigger than it was in 2012 when we estimated up to 300 gold panners." But because the panning activity is now widely dispersed across a 5,000 acre area, the FCD cannot say quite how many there are. But, the effect is felt. The FCD concludes, quote, "what is obvious is that the watershed; the wild life and forest are disappearing every year." They note that Gold panners have "deliberately set the forest on fire and large tracts of land have been denuded…".

Dealing With Trauma In A Violent Society
About 30 social workers participated in a trauma training today at the YABRA COMMUNITY DROP IN Center. Now usually these sessions would entail learning techniques and strategies to help their clients cope with trauma but the main focus wasn't their young patients, it was the social workers themselves. Courtney Weatherburne spoke with the lead facilitator, psychotherapist Dr. Alex Depaz about vicarious trauma and why it's important to address it . Here is that story At some point in life, we all experience trauma – like the death of a loved one through natural causes, violent murder or suicide. The sorrow and misery left behind is profound. The most vulnerable ones are the children. They see the blood on the streets, they see the dead bodies. Deborah Sewell - Managing Director, LOVE Foundation: "They live in this trauma, just where they live, the location where they live, it is a traumatic experience for them."

Tourist Drowned At "Secret Beach"
San Pedro police today found the body of of a tourist from Houston Texas who apparently drowned yesterday in a water sports accident. Yesterday at 2:30, 29-year-old Rickilee Michelle Mercer was jet skiing along with 39-year-old Michigan resident Marvin Hazim Yono near an area known as "Secret Beach" which is Northwest of San Pedro Town. They left the beach heading west in the direction of Blackadore Caye when they both fell off. He swam to shore, but Mercer didn't make it - and he says he last saw her swimming towards the jet ski. She didn't resurface and a Police and Coast Guard search party was launched. Her body was found at around 1:30 near Blackadore Caye which is 4 miles northwest of Secret Beach.

Aragon Bickering With Bernard
The PUP Mayor of Orange Walk Town and the UDP area representative for Orange Walk East are at it again. The last we reported on their feuding, it was over incomplete work on roads in the Louisiana area. Well, Aragon sent a letter to Bernard on Monday boasting that he'd finished upgrading those roads to what is called "paving standard", and he urged Mayor Bernard to pave them before the rains come in June. As you might imagine, that didn't go down too well with the Mayor. Last night, he posted a salty response to area rep on Facebook. Right at the opening, in the second sentence, Bernard snaps, "I know comprehension is not your strong suit". Form there he promises to keep it short, saying that unlike the area rep, he doesn't have time for, quote, stupidity and petty quarrels." Bernard says he is quote, "quite willing and able to complete what you have barely started." He chides the UDP Rep, quote, "Please…step aside and let those who are prepared to work, get to work."

Mauger Caye Coming Along
Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve is one of the most important marine reserves in the country, and it's finally getting permanent outposts so that officials can properly patrol and maintain the territory. An inauguration ceremony took place today on Mauger and Calabash Cayes. Here's a quick look at the day's events... We'll have the rest of that story for you tomorrow.

No Bail For Pulu
A well-known and vocal supporter of the PUP was denied bail today because of his long rap sheet. Henry Gillett, known as "Pulu" along with 19 year old Keifer McKenzie, was read two criminal charges, one count of aggravated assault with a Presidente bottle upon Jaheel Goodger, and one count of threatening words upon Goodger. It's a routine charge, and initially, the police prosecutor, had no objection to bail but after the Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith saw Gillett's rap sheet, which listed a number of violent offenses and some cases which are pending, she questioned the prosecutor why he was not objecting to bail. And so, the Prosecutor then objected to bail on the grounds of the seriousness of the offense and that the victim is known to both accused men. Chief Magistrate Smith told Gillett that based on his previous convictions for offenses of the same nature, she will remand him into custody and that he should feel free to go the Supreme Court for bail.

Celebrating Child Stimulation
Early Childhood Development is more than just having kids play fun educational games, it's actively reading with them , challenging them to think and solve problems and the Ministry of Education says the best place to get kids engaged at that level is at preschool. Today preschoolers from all over the Belize District marched through city streets to celebrate child stimulation month. The coordinator of the event as well as the Minister of Education shared how importance it is to capture kids at this stage of their life. The goal of the ministry is to have all 4 year olds in preschools.


#522060 - 03/02/17 06:47 AM Re: Today's Belize News: March 2, 2017 [Re: Marty]  
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Channel 5

Fiery Accident on Placencia Road Leaves 2 Dead
At the crack of dawn this morning, a horrible accident occurred on the Placencia Road in the south. A speeding pick-up truck veered off the road and crashed into a [...]

Officer Mark Tench Says Investigation into Missing Visa Foils was Extensive
Immigration Officer of eighteen years’ experience, Mark Tench, appeared before the Senate Special Select Committee this morning as one of two witnesses in the inquiry on the Immigration Department.  His [...]

What Really Happened on Boxing Day, 2012, in the West?
And while that may be the biggest bombshell out of today’s public hearings, what exactly happened out west over that holiday period in 2012 has only been obliquely told.  In [...]

Investigation Spread North as Alleged Ringleader Confessed…
The investigation widened to include other persons.  According to Tench, they tried their mightiest to get the agent identified as selling the foils to Chang and Tillett to confirm other’s [...]

Somebody “Ratted Out” The Investigators and Police Were Not Called In
Tench told the Public Service Commission that his advice to Edgar Cano and Vernon Leslie to call the police in relation to the missing foils was not taken. Instead, he [...]

Vernon Leslie ‘Disappointed’ by Cano Response
This afternoon, it was the turn of Tench’s former supervisor, Vernon Leslie, to appear. He will retire in December after completing thirty years on the job, which he says he [...]

Will Eric Chang and Patrick Tillett Defy Senate Committee?
As we have reported, former deputy Mayor of Belize City Eric Chang and financial controller with the Belize City Council, Patrick Tillett, declined an invitation to appear before the Senate [...]

S.S.B. Must Justify Arguments on Share Purchase
The Social Security Board has given preliminary approval, through its Investment Committee, for a purchase of thirty-five million dollars in shares for Belize Telemedia Limited and twenty million dollars in [...]

Business Senator Hails Return of N.G.O.’s to Boards
The Social Security Board has publicly indicated its intention, pending final approval, to offer its third seat on the Boards of both B.T.L. and B.E.L. to members of the trade [...]

U.N. in Caribbean Meets to Set Priorities
Regional coordinators from various United Nations agencies within the Caribbean have concluded a two-day conference in Belize where they met at length to discuss the implementation of the United Nations [...]

Sustainable Development Goals Coming in 5 Years
The framework provides a platform for countries to access global expertise and experience of the United Nations System at both the country and sub regional levels.  Bruno Pouezat assumed chairmanship [...]

American Tourist Drowns after Jet-Ski Incident on West Coast of Ambergris
The lifeless body of a female was discovered this evening off the coast of Ambergris Caye. The body has been identified as twenty-nine-year-old Rickilee Michelle Mercer; an accountant of Texas, [...]

Officers Accused in Edwin Ixpatac Death to be Tried for Manslaughter
Three San Pedro police officers accused of killing a bartender on San Pedro back in March 2016 will have to stand trial at the Supreme Court for manslaughter and not [...]

Jail for Accused Belize City Robber
Tonight twenty-five-year-old Stanley Moore, a resident of Faber’s Road, Belize City is serving his first night of a nine-year sentence for robbery with a firearm imposed upon him by Magistrate [...]

Child Stimulation Month Begins with Major Parade of Preschoolers
The number of preschoolers is on an upward trend.  Today, there are over two hundred and twenty-nine preschools across the country with over seven thousand five hundred students enrolled in [...]

Mr. Belize Rigo Vellos Goes Back to Arnold Classic
Five-time Mister Belize, Rigo Vellos left the country today for Ohio, U.S.A.   Vellos and two other Belizean bodybuilders will be competing at the Arnold Classic this Friday.  The professional bodybuilding [...]

Social Workers Trained to Deal with Children’s Trauma Issues
Youths between the ages of fourteen and twenty-nine over the years have been experiencing trauma due to a number of reasons, including violence on the streets, at home or school.  [...]

Psychotherapist Says Frontline Workers Can Get Fatigue
There are many forms of trauma and those social workers, police officers and teachers who are in the fields endure what is known as compassion fatigue. In turn, they subconsciously [...]

CTV3

Immigration Officer Reveals How He Discovered VISA Huslte
Discussions over the disappearance of 8 visa foils from the Immigration Office at the Western Border back in December 2012 – over four years ago – took center stage at today’s Senate Select Committee hearing with the person who discovered that the visas had gone missing, former Border Supervisor Mark Tench, giving details under Oath. Tench, who said that he had reported to work on the morning of Boxing Day, December 26th 2012, only to find out that their security had been breached, explained to the Committee what happened next. Chairman Aldo Salazar – Special Senate Select Committee: “Can you give us your account of what transpired, is this correct?” Mark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border: “Most of it yes, on the 26th of December which was Boxing Day, I was the supervisor on shift and I came to work with two other officers, Requena and Crawford, and upon entering the door, six o’clock we shift over from the night person, there is one night person who works there and there was a gentleman who wanted to buy a VISA...”

Was There Cover Up In VISA Hustle?
It is clear that many answers are still forthcoming in the matter of the 8 visa foils that went missing, and this is why, as we mentioned earlier, both Chang and Tillett have been invited to appear before the Committee. Both will have to explain why, when and how they accessed those visas and in precise detail. Tench, shared in the today’s hearing, that Tillett related to him that he had already gotten 12 visas through the then Minister but that wasn’t enough. Mark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border: “When we start to think back it would have been somewhere about the 24th or 25th of November sometime around that time when the VISAS went missing. Mr. Tillette didn’t bought it the same day he bought it I think three or four days after and his reason was that they had already gotten some VISAS legitimately but they had wanted more and their minister had said no, so they found an agent that was his explanation.”

Tench Accuses Candelaria Saldivar For lying To Senate Hearing
Before the break, we showed you the testimony by Immigration Officer Mark Tench and his report on the case of visas that went missing in December 2012. Tench also shared his disbelief that even though he was the only one who has thoroughly investigated the case, in 2016 he was called before the Public Services Commission to face disciplinary requests by the Ministry. If you’re scratching your head and wondering why Tench would face prosecution so were we. Tench said rebukingy that the decision to drag him before the Commission was taken by the former CEO Candelaria Saldivar. Mark Tench - Former Immigration Supervisor, Western Border: “As far as I know me and Mr. Leslie were blamed for this VISAS being missing, I am the only person that has done any investigation on this matter and even when we got, when they had the hearing last year and we got exonerated from that hearing through the public service commission they still have not done any investigation, and the thing about it is that, it is unfair that the scandal to the department to all the officers that have been dragged here and the real culprits have never been even asked a simple question, it’s so unfair and then on another matter to have Mr. Mortar come here and slander my name publicly that is so”

Eric Chang And Patrick Tillette Summons To Appear Before Special Senate Select Committee
Eric Chang and Patrick Tillett, you’ve heard their names a lot in tonight’s newscast in relation to today’s Senate Select Committee hearing, but as we had reported two weeks ago, the two had snubbed the Committee’s invitations to appear. Last week Committee Chairman Aldo Salazar confirmed that the Committee took steps to reinforce their request with a summons, but the question is, will it work? Today Salazar confirmed that the summons were delivered in person to both Chang and Tillett and so, they are expected to appear next week. Aldo Salazar, Chairman, Senate Select Committee: “If you would recall I said on the last occasion that we had invited them based on the actual convention for the said inquiry was an invitation that was sent out, so we had invited them with anticipation that they would attend at a prior date but when they declined our invitation then we actually took the decision to issue a summons and so when that was issued it was not with the intention to appear today but next week.”

Business Senator Says Senate Hearings Expose Gross Neglect Of Duty
Business Senator Mark Lizarraga might have been denied the Chairmanship of the Senate Select Committee but this has not stopped him from aggressively seeking answers from key witnesses from where he sits as a member of the Committee. In fact, Lizarraga has been more involved in the questioning than any other Senator in the Committee. Today we asked him to give us some of his thoughts of the revelations over the past twelve sessions. Mark Lizarraga, Business Senator: “I think it’s going to be a long slow process but I think that we have been getting a lot of good insight into what has been happening in the department and I believe that as we continue we will begin to see that this culture was well known and that there was very few attempts really to stop what was happening, we don’t know why at this point but we intent to find out.”

Business Senator Speaks On Super-bond Negotiations
There are no updates tonight on the Government’s attempts to renegotiate the Superbond even after its consent solicitation expired on Monday with no indication that it had been accepted by bondholders. Information to the public has been seldom, as the Government tries to sway the bondholders to agree to new terms before a 30 day grace period ends on March 22nd. Today we asked Business Senator Mark Lizarraga to discuss how he sees the issue of national concern unfolding. Mark Lizarraga, Business Senator: “I continue to question what motivation the bondholders would really have to renegotiate unless it is on their benefit there is a penalty clause that will kick in if we default so there is really in my view at least great difficulty in trying to see what motivation the bondholders will have, we have not complied with the spirit of the precious renegotiation, we have not put our monies to good use, we have not done what we said we were going to do so why would we expect the bondholders to listen to us and say oh yes you are credible let’s sit down and try work this out it escapes me as to what motives they would really have to want to renegotiate.”

Mr. Belize Heads To Columbus Ohio To Represent In Arnold Classic
Three well-known Belizean bodybuilding athletes are preparing to represent Belize on the world-stage. The country’s buffest, five-time Mr. Belize bodybuilding champ Rigo Vellos, is leaving tomorrow to participate in the Arnold Sports Festival to be held in Columbus, Ohio. Two other athletes Oyinkro Akpobodor and Aurel Lewis will also compete. The Festival features the very popular Arnold Classic competition which attracts athletes from all over the world. Vellos will be participating for the second time, since his first entry in 2014 in the Light Heavy-weight category in which he placed 9th. Today we met him at the Spartan Gym in Corozal Town and he told us why he believes he is better prepared this time around.

Did Dorian Pakeman Breach Court Order?
On January 10th Dorian Pakeman, the Director of the Government Press office, appeared in court on a single charge of: Causing death by careless conduct following a traffic accident back in March of 2016 where Biscayne Mechanic, Dean Dawson lost his life. As it had previously been reported, citing the nature of the charge levied on him, Pakeman was granted bail by Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer who ordered that he cannot leave the country without first notifying the court that he must travel, but was not asked to surrender his passport. A report on the Amandala newspaper on February 13th however, indicated that Pakeman had violated the court’s bail conditions, after a picture was posted by a friend of Pakeman on social media which shows him at a basketball game in the US the week of the 12th of February. According to that report the trip was made without the Court’s permission. Today his attorney, Brian Neal was asked for comment on the matter.

LOVE FM

Multiple Fatalities Reported in Traffic Incident in Placencia
Police have confirmed that two persons were killed in an accident on the Placencia Road. According to Police, they have not been able to confirm the identity of the victims as yet. They say sometime after five o’clock this morning, the F150 pickup truck was headed from Placencia toward the Santa Cruz area when it […]

Tourist Found Dead in Belizean Waters
Members of the Belize Coast Guard are on a search mission just outside of Ambergris Caye where an American National went under water and has not resurfaced. Reports reaching Love News are that 39-year-old, Marvin Yono of Michigan, USA was on a jet ski west of Ambergris Caye at an area known as Secret Beach. […]

Deputy PM Says the Government System Needs Revamping
The revelations coming out of the Special Select Senate Inquiry on the Auditor General’s Report on Immigration have been incredible. The suspected or known hustling that was taking place is being cemented as several officers have been responding to queries presented by the Senators. While it has been noted that these acts of corruption have […]

Chang and Tillett Still Wanted to Appear Before Senate Inquiry
Both Eric Chang and Patrick Tillett have been served with a summons as ordered by the Senate Special Select Committee, after both men rejected the committee’s invitation to appear before its members. So now, they are being compelled to show up and answer questions in respect to the eight missing visa foils which prompted the […]

Names of Eric Chang and Patrick Tillett Resonate with Missing Visa Stickers
Immigration Officer Mark Tench appeared before the Senate Special Select Committee to defend himself against the allegations made against him in the Auditor General Special report. Tench has been a public officer for about 18 years and he is currently a supervisor stationed at the Immigration Office in Orange Walk Town. However, during the audit […]

The Irrelevance of 3 Days at the End of School Year 2017
About a week ago the matter between the Belize National Teachers Union and Ministry of Education was settled and the teachers who went on strike managed to not have their salaries touched despite them not being in the classroom for eleven days. The non-payment of teachers was one that Education Minister, Patrick Faber was initially […]

Positive Stimulation for Children in 2017
March is Child Stimulation Month and the Early Childhood Unit within the Quality Assurance and Development Services of the Ministry of Education is overseeing several activities for children throughout the month countrywide. Officially opening the month was a pre-school parade in the six districts. Love News was at the Memorial Park this morning to witness […]

Ash Wednesday: The Mark of the Lenten Season
Christians around the world are observing today as Ash Wednesday which signifies the start of the Lenten season. Traditionally, the Church would have services to distribute the ashes to those in attendance throughout the course of the day. The Lenten season lasts for forty days and forty nights excluding Sundays, reflecting the time Jesus was […]

NWC Kicks off Women’s Month 2017
Yesterday the National Women’s Commission along with the Canadian High Commissioner hosted a Heads of Women’s Agency/Partners Breakfast at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City. The event marked the first event to jumpstart National Women’s Month celebrated throughout the month of March. At the breakfast the High Commissioner of Canada to Belize, Deborah […]

Fire Destroys Home and SUV on Hydro Road
Police and fire officials in Benque Viejo del Carmen are probing into a house fire that destroyed a home and a vehicle worth over quarter of a million Belize dollars. The fire reportedly happened yesterday morning around seven thirty in the Better in Belize settlement located at mile thirteen on the Hydro Road in that […]

Breaking Belize NewsPJ

Immigration Department to issue temporary passports, experiencing technical difficulties
The Immigration Department issued an official release today informing the public that the Passport Office is experiencing technical difficulties with the passport printing process. The release says that the Immigration Department will be providing temporary passports, in emergency cases, to persons whose passports are exhausted, lost (6 weeks waiting period apply), damaged or mutilated, and who demonstrate a need for urgent travel. Temporary passports will be processed within one week, with validity for one year at the normal fee of $30.

Guatemalan Ambassador reinstated in Belize
The Guatemalan Ambassador to Belize, H.E. Manuel Estuardo Roidan Barillas, has been reinstated by the Guatemalan government. The Guatemalan government has indicated to our Ministry of Foreign Affairs that he reported back for duty effective today, March 1. Prior to his return, Belize had been almost 6 months without a Guatemalan ambassador.

Immigration officer sheds new light on Immigration hustle
The Senate hearing continues today with Immigration officer, Mark Tench, appearing as a witness. Readers will recall that eight (8) visa stickers were stolen from the western border in 2012.The stickers were then allegedly sold to Former Belize City Deputy Mayor, Eric Chang, and the […]

Belize~The diaspora and the debt
Belize has increased its external debt from around BZ$2.3 billion in 2008 to around BZ$3.2 billion currently. Last week, the country missed a payment due on the SuperBond, and has a 30 day grace period in which it can pay up to remain current….and […]

House destroyed by fire in Benque
A house in the “Better in Belize” settlement situated at mile 13 on the Hydro Road, Cayo was completely destroyed00 a.m. and observed the remains of a wooden home, belonging to Annatasia Thorne. […]

Gun and ammo recovered from Belize City streets
Yesterday morning around 10:00, police conducted a search of the Cumberbatch Field located on Kraal Road which led to the discovery of a a silver and black .9 mm Smith and Wesson brand pistol along with a loaded magazine. No one was in the area […]

Fair weather to prevail
The 24-hour forecast is for mostly fair weather to continue. Sunny skies with a few cloudy spells are expected today with cloudy skies tonight. Isolated showers are expected over most areas. Southern and coastal areas will experience more showers. The wind will blow from […]

Four reportedly die in fiery Placencia Road accident
Unofficial reports reaching our newsroom is that there was a road traffic accident this morning on the Placencia Road where four people reportedly died. A vehicle reportedly ran into a lamp post causing it to fall on the vehicle and causing a fire. The […]

Blogs

Leela Verden;Remembrance of her history music
So in that northerly spirit, we want you to name the northern-most country in Central America. It has a mix of Afro-Caribbean and Central American cultures. You can hear Creole and Spanish here, though English is the official language. Which country is that? The answer is Belize where after 30 years of independence the national anthem has finally been translated into the lingua franca of the people: English Creole. Reporter Amy Bracken caught up with the translator, Leela Vernon, in the diva's hometown of Punta Gorda: If you go down a path behind a tool and parts shop in Punta Gorda, you'll likely find Leela Vernon sitting in her garden. Leela Vernon is a household name in Belize. She's known as the Queen of Brukdown — a popular rural Belizean dance music. She's won awards from the government of Belize and the Queen of England, promoting her culture at home and abroad. She's also known for her protest songs. Vernon is 60 now and likes to talk about her hobbies: organic gardening and canning, but she hasn't given up writing songs. In fact, she's been tinkering with the national anthem.

What to do EVERY night of the week in Placencia, Belize! Oh, and the new PIZZA SHOP!
Keep this post in mind when you come down! You can also see this in the Placencia Breeze, they will keep it updated on their site! MONDAY: Pickled Parrot- Art Bar - Every 3rd Monday, 3pm. Tipsy Tuna - Martini Monday and live music after 6. Turtle Inn - Indonesian Rijsttafel dinner. Plus $1 wings at the Casino (that's BZD!) and $4 beers all night (also BZD!). TUESDAY: Barefoor Bar - Travelers Tuesday -$3bzd rum drinks from 5-close. Tipsy Tuna - Mojito Tuesday, plus sushi and live music. Habanero's at Robert's Grove - Mexican buffet with Mariachi band 7-9. WEDNESDAY: Barefoot Bar - Fun & Funky Jam session, visiting musicians welcome, starts at 5. Mariposa - Yahtzee night 4:30. Pickled Parrot - Live music 6pm. Tipsy Tuna - Garifuna Drumming 7-9pm, plus $1 bze wings all day .

“Ridin’ in My Chevy” away from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Today’s edition will bring to a close the trip that Rose and I made to Havana, Cuba. I probably could have run a further two editions but for the sake of everyone’s boredom levels (mine included) this will be the final instalment in the ‘John & Rose go to Cuba’ series. If you’ve missed the previous instalments (how dare you) you can find them at: Rose and I did quite a lot of walking in Havana so for our final day we decided that we would take it easy and we’d try some of the transport options. When we left the hotel grounds we considered our options. A classic convertible? or a plain, old taxi (cab for you non UK readers)? or a Lada! or a tuk-tuk (or auto rickshaw) ? We hadn’t been in a tuk-tuk since visiting Thailand in the ’90s ( that’s 1990s for those of you that think I’m really old) and we’d enjoyed it then . So… the tuk-tuk it was.

Explore Belize, The Maya Heartland
More than 4,000 years ago, a unique civilization arose in Central America. Eventually stretching from Mexico in the north to El Salvador in the south, the Maya civilization built a series of impressive stone cities, astronomical observatories, pyramids, and temples. At the heart of the empire was the land now known as Belize, home to more Maya ruins than anywhere else in Central America. Whether it was due to climate change, endemic warfare, or other factors, the mighty civilization that once fed more than 1 million people rapidly crumbled around the year 900 AD, abandoning its enormous cities to be reclaimed by the jungle. Today, however, the Maya have begun to reclaim their heritage, serving as guides to some of Belize's most significant archeological sites, ancient ruins, and sacred caves, giving visitors plenty to see and learn on their vacation. Many of the enormous cities carved out of the jungle by the ancient Maya were only rediscovered in the past few decades, and archeologists know that new treasures are still out there, waiting to be found. In 2015, an expedition led by University of California San Diego archaeologist Geoffrey Braswell discovered an enormous jade "megajewel" covered in hieroglyphs at the site of Nim Li Punit in southern Belize. Beyond the technical mastery used to carve the jade plate measuring 7.4 inches wide but just 0.3 inches thick, the hieroglyphs are of historical importance, describing one of the last kings to rule the city before it was abandoned just a few decades later.

Belize Whale Shark Diving & Snorkeling
Whale sharks are truly magnificent creatures, using their built-in sensitivity to magnetic fields and the phases of the moon to circumnavigate the globe on a yearly basis. Measuring up to 41 feet (12 meters) in length and weighing up to 47,000 pounds (21 tons), whale sharks are the largest fish species in the world's oceans. Despite their enormous size, whale sharks feed on extremely tiny plankton and fish spawn. Every spring, migrating schools of whale sharks make their way to the waters off of Belize, rising up from their cruising depths to feed on enormous clouds of fish spawn and microscopic organisms during periods of the full moon. Whale sharks have no teeth. Instead, they use an organic filter to strain their feed from thousands of gallons of sea water. Whale sharks are most commonly seen around Gladden Spit and the Silk Cayes in the southeastern part of the Belize Barrier Reef. Even for experienced scuba divers and/or snorkelers used to marveling at underwater life, interacting with whale sharks is a special experience. The gentle giants are a marvel to behold, juveniles playing and frolicking while calves are being fed by their mothers. To protect the whale sharks, only small groups of divers are allowed to interact with the creatures. Divers and snorkelers will get a special opportunity to approach the magnificent whale sharks. Occasionally, a curious whale shark may be curious about their underwater visitors, but actively attempting to touch or play with the whale sharks is prohibited.

It Is Happening This Week: La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge
The 19th annual La Ruta Belize River Challenge is set to begin at 7:00 AM on March 3, 2017, in San Ignacio Town. Featuring more than 170 miles of shifting currents, whitewater rapids, and grueling portages, the four-day race pits hundreds of three-person teams competing in eight different categories to be the first to cross the finish line in downtown Belize City. The La Ruta Maya Belize Canoe Race began in 1998 with a one-off promotional event sponsored by a local bottled water company to raise consciousness about the Belize Old River. Today, the La Ruta Maya Belize Challenge is one of the premier canoe racing events in Central America with teams of professional and amateur canoeists attracting large crowds at every stop along the route that begins in San Ignacio in the country's far west and finishes in the heart of Belize City in the east. The first day of the race, March 3, 2017, begins at 7:00 AM as teams set out from the Hawkesworth Bridge in San Ignacio to make their way to the first mandatory rest stop at the village of Banana Bank. Day two of this thrilling event sees teams battle headwinds and shifting currents to be the first to arrive at the charmingly named village of Double Head Cabbage. Day three tests the teams' endurance as they navigate rapids to be the first to arrive at the village of Burrell Boom. The fourth and final day of the race, March 7, 2017, sees teams make the final sprint to be the first to arrive in downtown Belize City.

International Sourcesizz

Body found during search for Spring woman missing in Belize
The U.S. Embassy in Belize said they have been notified that an American citizen was reported missing after jet skiing in the area around Ambergris Caye. Rickilee Mercer, of Spring, left for Belize on Feb. 24. She was taking a vacation with friends, according to her family. On Tuesday night, her family got the call that she was missing. Authorities told her family that she had been missing since around 2 p.m. Tuesday. Her family said Mercer was on a jet ski with a man when she went missing. That man was questioned while in police custody, but has since been released, according to reports.

Belize Believers Need Discipleship, Bibles and Books
Sometimes, the best way to find out what someone needs is simply to ask. Jason Woolford of Mission Cry, formerly Christian Resources International, did just that on his recent trip to Belize. “They’re not asking for food or clothes, but they’re saying, ‘Listen, we need discipleship, we need Bibles, we need Christian books,’” he said. That’s where Mission Cry comes in. According to Woolford, their goal “is to reach the entire country of Belize with the Bible or a Christian book in every home in this country.”

Study could help Caribbean protect and restore ‘super reefs’
Not all reefs are created equal, a distinction that fish seem to recognize but until now scientists largely overlooked. In a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, researchers found that if managed properly, Caribbean reefs could support from 60 to 90 percent more sharks, rays and other large predators than now inhabiting them. They also found that some, with a perfect combination of caves and coral for habitat, prey and the right temperatures, have the potential to become Seaquariums of the sea in the form of ‘super’ reefs. “It’s immensely valuable from a tourism perspective,’ said University of North Carolina marine ecologist John Bruno. “The next step is to employ this kind of approach in designing conservation across the landscape and figure out the reefs with the greatest restoration potential.”

Kendis Gibson Named Co-Anchor of World News Now
Kendis Gibson has been upped to co-anchor of ABC’s World News Now and America This Morning. Gibson has been filling in on the overnight/early morning shows for the last year. “A thoughtful and versatile journalist, he’s a great match for the overnight hours,” writes ABC News president James Goldston in a note to staff, obtained by TVNewser. A native of Belize, Gibson joined ABC News in December 2014 from WJLA in Washington. Gibson as also been a reporter/anchor for CNN and HLN, CBS Newspath and NBC Newschannel.

Cost of fishing study concluded for Caribbean states
A landmark study to look at the impacts of rising cost factors on fishing operations in the Caribbean has been concluded, and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), in collaboration with FAO, will convene a validation workshop at the United Nations House in Christ Church, Barbados on Monday, February 27 and Tuesday, February 28, to review the findings and chart the necessary course of action. At the upcoming event, CRFM Executive Director, Milton Haughton, will present a general overview of the project and explain what the workshop is expected to achieve. The background, findings, conclusions and recommendations of the study will be presented by Claudia Stella Beltrán Turriago, economic consultant, for final refinement.

Caribbean Leaders Want Swifter Action on Climate Funding
When Tropical Storm Erika hit the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica on Aug. 27, 2015, it killed more than two dozen people, left nearly 600 homeless and wreaked damages totaling more than a billion dollars. The storm dumped 15 inches of rain on the mountainous island, caused floods and mudslides and set the country back 20 years, according Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit. The island was inadequately prepared for a storm such as Erika. Many roads and bridges were simply not robust enough to withstand such high volumes of water. In a national address shortly following the storm, Skerrit said that hundreds of homes, bridges and roads had been destroyed and millions of dollars in financial aid were needed to help the country bounce back. “In order to get back to where we were before Tropical Storm Erika struck, we have to source at least 88.2 million dollars for the productive sector, 334.55 million for infrastructure and 60.09 million for the social sectors,” Skerrit said.

Videos

  • Evas, 1/2min.

  • Morning Matters with Gilroy Graham and Trudy from Grace, 60min.

  • Child Stimulation Month Begins with the cutest parade of the year in San Pedro, 5min.

  • Sean McDermott Benefit Concert, San Pedro, Belize, 31min. This video is of Sean McDermott Benefit Concert in San Pedro, Belize for Child Education. Special thanks to the man known on the island as Rocco and The Sunshine Scholarship Foundation.

  • Watching Howler monkeys in Belize, 1min. Saw some cool Howler monkeys and was totally amazed!

  • MSU Students from Belize, 5min. MSU 2nite's Kelly Diesel sits down with Murray State students Khalil Guerra and Leo Rosado to discuss their home country of Belize and what it's like attending Murray State University.

  • Releasing Wild Yellow Head Parrots! - Tales of Scarlet Studios 2016, 10min. In 2016, a team of conservationists, The Belize Bird Rescue, and Programme for Belize joined forces to protect endangered Yellow Headed parrots where they are being threatened by staggering numbers of poaching and habitat loss. Working together, field researchers managed to pull 14 nestling parrots in dire threat of being poached, where they were raised in safety until they could be released in perfect health later that year. Scarlet Studios in Collaboration with the Belize Bird Rescue & Programme for Belize. Special thanks to all collaborators; all members of the Yellow-headed Parrot Working Group, including Programme for Belize, Belize Bird Rescue, Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, Belize Audubon Society, the Belize Zoo, and the Loro Parque Fundación. A truly gorgeous short documentary by Nickolas Lormand of Scarlet Studios. You may remember Nick was our 'release guy' on site. He certainly kept himself busy during those lonely 6 weeks! Thank you for this amazing record of the entire process.

  • Playful marine life - Mexico Rocks, Belize, 2.5min. A shark tried to take my snorkel of my face and ran into turtle again.

  • How I Really Feel - My Husband on Naked & Afraid, 10min. Today is the day Cory starts Naked and Afraid. Since he's already in the jungles of Belize I'm telling you how I honestly feel about it.

  • CHILD STIMULATION MONTH LICKS OFF TODAY MARCH 1ST, 2017 IN ORANGE WALK TOWN, 5min.

  • Overview of the UN Systems (Placencia Special), 77min.

  • Belize, 4min. Nicole is the non-fish star with yellow fins in this vid of our recent trip to Belize. It's the first time using our new underwater camera, and we didn't realize it had an anti-shake feature till the last day (!). Also, it's a bit tricky to hold that tiny thing steady when at the surface being pushed around by waves, or swimming after a fish. I started getting the hang of it by the last day, realizing that I had to get underwater and neutrally buoyant, which required ten pounds of weights and some practice. We wanted to share this with our friends to give some idea of the fantastic snorkeling on the Belize barrier reef.

  • Passing the Coast Guard Station of Ambergris Caye in Belize, 1/2min.

  • Mahi mahi fishing belize, 1min.

  • Belize snorkeling vacation, 10min. Vacation to small island on Glover's Reef, Belize for snorkeling and sea kayaking.

  • JELLYFISH CAUGHT AT BELIZE CORAL REEF, 1/2min.


  • Links
    Portofino Resort- Now with a new BEACH BAR!!

    Click for excellent scuba lessons with Elbert Greer!


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